Garlic Virgin – Live and Learn Gardening

If you have read my earlier gardening posts you understand that I classify myself as a Garden Virgin.  I suspect no matter how many years I garden, in future I will still think of myself as such.  Why? Because other than the occasional foray into ‘how to?’ on the internet I make much of it up as I go along. Okay, I admit, I do apply an ounce of common sense now and then as well.

I’ve listened and watched the odd gardening programme (oddly addictive) in my lifetime and someone always seems to be saying ‘you have to do it this way.’ I get that experts have worked out best ways to do things through experience, but I also realise that every plot, country, climate, soil, etc. all added up to make each garden unique and different, so I’m all for rules are meant to be bent, if not broken, e.g. what applies to one, does not apply to all. And~ I find half the fun is not planning, or worrying too much, and simply seeing what happens.

I was given some sage advice early on that most of what you plant in the ground will grow if you watch and nurture it, at least somewhat, and this has turned out to be true with generally an eighty to ninety percent success rate, and some wonderfully epic failures – sometimes my fault, sometimes not – which I have learned from them. Example? Where we live, forget tomatoes. There’s a blight in the soil here that kills them, all of them. The extra space in the garden this year has now been given over to more of what we like to eat and grows well. I love Live and Learn gardening.

Take garlic. Last spring I tried growing it from seed. Nada, nunca, nothing. (DItto onions by the way.) Didn’t help that I also planted at the wrong time of year. One great gardening friend suggested growing (most of) my plants from purchased seedlings, rather than seeds, and where seeds have failed I have gone this route. Garlic, onions, celery, leeks, peppers and aubergines all fall into this category. On the other side, carrots, beans, courgettes and cucumbers from seed seem to be inordinately easy and I do love that I have managed to bring them from a seed to my table when I eat them. There is real satisfaction in that.

Our local garden store is great about having the items available when they should be planted, and not out of season, finally noted and I duly purchased garlic bulbs when they showed up and planted them ~ in the autumn.  Success! And in early summer, as the chickens began pushing around the garlic bulbs looking for that perfect bit of dirt to bathe in and the leaves began to brown, I realised it was time to harvest them.  Or at least I hoped it was as they were being dug up by the chickens anyway so not a lot of choice. And that’s the thing, sometimes it is more interesting, one could even argue therapeutic, to simply let the land, (chickens) and plants tell you.

Then Pumpjack mentioned curing or drying the garlic. Ah.

Well, I suppose, if one thinks about it, it rather makes sense. (Ditto onions again it turns out.) After all, when I looked at the bulbs newly out of the garden soil they looked very fresh indeed and how is it that garlic lasts such a wonderfully long time unless something is done to it?

One internet search later and I had my garlic in bunches and hanging under a tree, as I prefer air drying, but more importantly I had also read that hung garlic keeps the mosquitoes away. Maybe that is where the vampire legend actually comes from?

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